Working Moms Healthier Than Those Who Stay at Home

On-the-job moms are healthier at age 40 than their stay-at-home counterparts, a new study from the University of Akron and Pennsylvania State University says.

Working mothers who return to the workforce soon after giving birth report greater mobility, more energy, and less depression at age 40 than mothers who stayed home or didn’t return to work until much later, the study shows.

“Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically,” says study co-author Adrianne Frech of the University of Akron. “It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage.”

Earlier studies have shown that working mothers are happier than stay-at-home moms, although having a realistic approach to working while parenting is key. Women who think that they can work and rear children without making major changes or sacrifices — the so-called “Supermom” attitude — are more likely to suffer depression than those with a more balanced outlook.

The study was presented in August 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.